Asian Le Mans Series: Graff Racing gives the French constructor its third consecutive LMP3 title with the Ligier JS P320!
The Ligier JS P320 is unstoppable! For the third year in a row since the launch of the new-generation LMP3s in competition in 2020, a Ligier team fought off its rivals to clinch the 2023 Asian Le Mans Series LMP3 title with a Ligier JS P320. After United Autosports in 2021 and CD Sport in 2022, this year Graff Racing came out on top in the LMP3 championship winning the highly-prized invitation for the Centenary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This is a great reward for Pascal Rauturier's French team on its official debut in LMP3 in the Automobile Club de l'Ouest's winter championship. It pipped another Ligier squad, MV2S Racing, competing in the championship for the first time with its Ligier JS P320.
Even though Graff Racing had already competed in the Asian Le Mans Series in the LMP2 category and looked after a Ligier JS P320 for G-Drive Racing in 2022, it's the first year the French team launched itself in the LMP3 category of the championship under its own colours. On its official debut in the LMP3 category in the Asian Le Mans Series, it entered two Ligier JS P320s including #8 for three drivers who have enjoyed diverse careers: Frenchmen Fabrice Rossello and François Heriau and Spaniard Xavier Lloveras.*
“After our victory last season in Abu Dhabi in the G-Drive Racing colours, we were convinced that the Ligier JS P320 was the car we needed to win,” explained Pascal Rauturier, the Graff Racing team manager. “It has all the qualities of a top-class endurance racing car; it's quick, reliable and polyvalent. Our aim was clear: to win the title to obtain an invitation for the Centenary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.**
After scoring two second places in races 1 and 2 in Dubai plus a fourth place in the third race at Abu Dhabi, suspense was at fever pitch in the Graff Racing camp!
"Graff's DNA is to aim for victory," said Pascal Rauturier, Team Manager of Graff Racing
“It was epic!” said Fabrice Rosselo. “We knew that everything was still up for grabs despite the fact that we were ten points behind the leaders. It was clear that we had to win the last race even though we were not masters of our own destiny for outright victory in the championship.”
To clinch the title the team had not only to win the race, but also to see their rival, French outfit MV2S Racing, finishing third or lower. In fact, this is how the scenario played out in the final race in the championship, which was a real cliffhanger!
Finally, the crew of the #8 Ligier JS P320 took the chequered flag in first place winning their first LMP3 title in the Asian Le Mans Series. It was Graff Racing's second one with the Ligier JS P320 after the title clinched in 2022 in the Ultimate Cup Series.***
“It's a real team effort in which all the posts are important,” underlined Rauturier. “We had a good driver line-up, an evenly-matched crew in which each member had a good level of performance and above all, excellent traffic management. But there was more to it than that; we also had to have a perfectly prepared car optimised by the engineers who had to be able to read the race accurately.”
The three Graff Racing drivers have had very different careers and they combined their skills around their feeling for the car enabling them to win their first LMP3 drivers' title.
French gentleman driver from F3, Fabrice Rossello, has already had several years' experience in LMP3:
“The car feels very much like a single-seater. The Ligier JS P320 run by Graff prove again d that we could race for almost fifty hours on the track over two weeks without the slightest technical issue.”
Spanish driver Xavier Lloveras, who will soon turn 23, comes from F4 and Formula Renault with a year's experience at the wheel of the Ligier JS P320:
“Coming from single-seaters and GT cars, the Ligier JS P320 is probably the most enjoyable car I have ever driven. I was very surprised by its power the first time I went out from the pits but also with its aero in high speed corners. It's very easy to drive but also challenging to put to the limit. Another strong point compared to the other LMP3 cars is its reliability. ”
François Heriau, the other French driver who changed from CN to LMP3 with the Ligier JS P3 and then moved on to LMP2 :
“Having got to know the previous LMP3 generation really well I find that what's been done in the field of aerodynamics and in terms of dampers is simply unbelievable. This gives a super level of performance as well as consistency over long stints. Without forgetting bullet-proof reliability as we had absolutely no problems over the whole championship.”
After scoring its first title in 2022, Graff Racing will be back in action in a few weeks in the Ultimate Cup Series and in April in the ELMS (in the Ultimate colours), as well as the Michelin Le Mans Cup. “We're absolutely determined to perform at the highest level in all these championships with our Ligier JS P320s,” assured Rauturier.
For more information about Graff Racing, CLICK HERE.
For more information about the Ligier JS P320, CLICK HERE.
*In 2022, Fabrice Rossello and Xavier Lloveras drove the Graff Racing Ligier JS P320 entered under the G-Drive Racing banner.
**The LMP3 title in the Asian Le Mans Series gives an automatic invitation for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
*** With the #16 Ligier JS P320 driven by Lucca Allen.